This past Friday I joined a local hiking club for a hike in the (10,000+ acre) Saint Mary’s Wilderness, which I’d never visited before.  My hiking companions were a congenial lot, but there were around thirty of them, which did make the wilderness seem rather populated.  Still, it was a beautiful hike through terrain quite different than I’d been familiar with elsewhere along the Blue Ridge.  For more pictures, click here.

Our route started at milepost 23 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and followed the Mine Bank Trail through down to the St. Mary’s Trail, where we turned right to visit the main St. Mary’s falls; we then backtracked and hiked out along the St. Mary’s Trail to the forest service road parking lot at FSR 41.  The rock formations and deep pools along the St. Mary’s River, along with the mountain laurel and rhododendron forests and the prolific variety of mushrooms along the Mine Bank Trail, were spectacular.